Editor’s Note: This is a guest piece by Cody and Paige Brandon.
As wedding coordinators, we have gotten to be a part of many beautiful, fun weddings. But, without fail, there is always “that guy” at a wedding. The guy who is underdressed, embarrasses the couple, or in some other way does something everyone wishes they could forget. We have learned it may be impossible to have a wedding without having “that guy” there — even if we still do our best to minimize his impact on the overall experience. But it is possible for you to not be that guy. So here are a few tips on how to be a wedding guest the couple will be happy they invited.
Etiquette as a wedding guest begins long before you arrive at the venue. You can start your tenure as a guest off well by responding to the invitation promptly. The bride and groom need to know who is attending as soon as possible so that they can plan and purchase accordingly. Make plans around the wedding immediately and respond.
Pay attention to the specifics of your invitation. If it is addressed to “Brett McKay,” only Brett is invited, no matter how lonely he may be. If the invitation is for “Mr. & Mrs. McKay,” “Brett & Kate McKay,” or “Brett McKay & Guest,” Brett may bring his wife, but no children or friends. Only if the “McKay family” were invited or specific children named would the whole family be welcome. While less common, it is not unheard of for some guests to be invited only to the ceremony or only to the reception. Read the invitation carefully and RSVP only for those guests who are actually invited and will definitely attend.
Another extremely important pre-wedding task is to dress yourself appropriately. This task can seem difficult these days. While many invitations used to include a dress code (“white tie,” “black tie,” “formal,” etc.), that is no longer the norm. If your invitation does include a dress code, follow it religiously. Not only do you not want to be the guy that wears jeans while everyone else is wearing tuxedos, but if a couple specifically asks you to dress in a certain manner, it is disrespectful to ignore those wishes.
Where a lot of confusion arises for men is in the now-more-common instance of an invitation without a dress code. Do not take this as a license to dress as you please. Consider carefully the location and timing of the wedding as well as the couple. If the wedding is in a church or a ballroom, more formal dress will likely be appropriate. Whereas the lately-popular setting of a renovated barn will give you some freedom to break out those (well-polished) cowboy boots. Likewise, a wedding at 10:00 a.m. with a brunch reception to follow will require a different outfit than one at 6:00 p.m. with a formal dinner.
Taking these factors into account, your goal should be to be better-dressed than the average attendee without drawing attention to yourself. Here is where having a versatile wardrobe is a valuable asset. For a wedding that does not require a tuxedo, you might wear a neutral or blue (not black, it’s not a funeral) suit and tie to ensure you are well-dressed. If you show up to find yourself immensely overdressed, you can always ditch the tie into your suit pocket or car or leave your jacket draped around a chair. As the night goes on, you might even be free to roll up your sleeves. But it is far better to have brought the jacket and tie with you than to